In an education system where the racial and ethnic makeup of the student population in urban districts continues to grow more diverse, educators may be overwhelmingly unprepared to address the biases that we bring into our classrooms and schools. This lack of preparedness is critical; studies have proven that the cultural competence and effectiveness of educators impacts students’ overall academic success (King, McIntosh, & Bell-Ellwanger, 2016; NCES, 2016). Even with a growing consensus on the need to support social and emotional learning for students, there is little focus upon addressing educators’ capacities in these areas.
Take a look at how Diversity Talks is measuring the cultural competency of educators through four dimensions: Power, Empathy, Relationships, and Mindset (PERM).
Diversity Talks aims to increase the cultural competence of adults by fostering a healing space for them to engage in culturally relevant and responsive conversations with young people. By partnering with schools and school systems to do this work, Diversity Talks helps create unique educational contexts where the power dynamics shift when adults are viewed as learners and young people are given space and knowledge to serve as leaders and facilitators of learning. The intent is for the lasting impact of this work to center on adults increasing their cultural competency and bringing it to their daily practice, while young people are empowered and prepared to have more of a voice in their learning; and ultimately, a seat at the table.
The Diversity Talks workshops are designed to shift traditional power dynamics that exist in educational contexts, creating a space for youth to lead challenging discussions - a role that is most often held by adults. While this is an unfamiliar experience for many adult participants, it can also be an impactful one, serving as a visceral model of what it means to truly empower young people in classrooms and schools.